Big green bus has flat tires
By Dennis T. Avery
If the Big Green Bus hasn't actually stalled, it's at least got a couple of newly-flattened tires. And the suddenly-Republican U.S. Congress's opposition to energy taxes is only part of it.
It started, of course, after the 1998 El Nino when global land temperatures refused to trend back upward. It became far more serous when world thermometers actually turned downward in 2007–08. The disparity between the computer model forecasts and real-world temperatures has now become massive.
Then there was Climategate, which gave us a peep into the unscientific maneuverings of the "real climate scientists" in the IPCC establishment. The revelations seem to have broken the spell the Greens had cast over First World journalists.
The latest problem is Green defections. Britain's Channel 4 recently aired a documentary titled, "What the Greens Got Wrong." In it, such former Green stalwarts as Patrick Moore, the Greenpeace co-founder and Stuart Brand, former editor of the Whole Earth Catalog, issued a mea culpa about nuclear power. They lamented that Green opposition to nuclear had led to "extra gigatons" of greenhouse gas emissions.
The Greens hotly deny they shut down nuclear power single-handedly, but they certainly constituted a powerful blocking force. Their positions dominated the nuclear headlines for decades.
British activist Mark Lynas, who used to uproot genetically-modified test plantings, now says that biotech could help feed the hungry. In fact, one of the segments of the Channel 4 program that has made Greens angriest was footage of starving Zambian kids during a drought—while the Greens were convincing the country's president to padlock U.S. food aid corn in warehouses as "dangerous."
For Greens, it was an ugly reminder of the millions of needless malaria deaths over the years since 1972, after Silent Spring and the Environmental Defense Fund got DDT banned in America. In African countries that can do without U.S. aid, DDT is sprayed inside the homes—both to kill mosquitoes and as the most powerful mosquito repellent. In fact, the Greens nearly got the manufacture of DDT banned worldwide under the Persistent Organic Pollutants treaty, Only the resistance of India, which uses the pesticide broadly and thus has a low malaria death rate, kept DDT available at all.
Lynas now says, "Being an environmentalist was part of my identity and most of my friends were environmentalists. We were involved in the whole movement together. It took me years to actually begin to question those core, cherished beliefs."
"We have got to find a more pragmatic and realistic way of engaging with people," said Brand. "I would like to see an environmental movement that says it turns out our fears about genetically engineered food crops were exaggerated, and we're glad about that."
"Environmentalists did harm by being ignorant and ideological and unwilling to change their mind based on actual evidence," says Moore. But of course being Green has always meant singing another chorus of "Never Gonna Say I'm Sorry."
The "turncoats" are all being vilified now by the unrepentant eco-faithful. But . . .
In America, the EPA's Policy Director recently resigned. Lisa Heinzerling had been famous among activists for her role in persuading the U.S. Supreme Court in 2007 to permit EPA regulation of greenhouse gases. Within EPA, her position had been, "The law is on our side. Let's go get them" Now she's resigned well before her leave-of-absence from Georgetown Law School expired.
Could EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson be worried about the Republican House Appropriations Committee—and her agency's budget? If so, which lady is the Green defector?
Dennis T. Avery is an environmental economist and a senior fellow for the Hudson Institute in Washington, DC. He was formerly a senior analyst for the Department of State. He is co-author, with S. Fred Singer, of Unstoppable Global Warming Every 1500 Years, Readers may write him at PO Box 202, Churchville, VA 24421 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.